Screen Printing Onto Sportswear | Ink And Additive Choices

Screen printing onto sportswear - Miracle white ink

Do you ever do screen printing onto sportswear? We offer a selection of ink options and additives, but if you need to print onto sportswear made of polyester, you may be wondering just how to tackle this slightly more technical screen printing requirement and indeed what inks to buy.

For most printers it is important to minimise stock holding and yet retain as much flexibility in what they are able to print as possible. With this in mind, we offer the following guidelines –

White Ink For Screen Printing Onto Sportswear

Screen printing onto sportswear inkYour first stop for screen printing onto sportswear should be Miracle White screen printing ink which is formulated specifically to be used on troublesome polyester materials. A first step of testing your polyester material should include printing Miracle White ink unmodified onto the substrate.

If the colour of the polyester you are printing onto is migrating into the white ink layer, the next step would be to add LCA or Low Cure Additive to the Miracle White Ink . This would lower the curing temperature and therefore also the chances of dye migration or colour bleed.

Alternatively, you can simply print a specialised dye blocker as the underbase and then print Miracle White on top. The ink we recommend for this is SportPro Defender Grey. This special ink is formulated to filter out any potential dyes migrating from the garment through the ink film. The obvious must be stated here for clarity though. By printing an underbase using Defender, you will have a thicker ink layer and therefore not as soft an overall feel as by using Miracle White alone or with Low Cure Additive.

Please note that SportPro Defender Grey is available in standard phthalate-free and PVC free versions. Just call for pricing.

If the garments you are printing are very stretchy, we also offer a High Stretch Additive (HSA) to improve the durability of the ink layer. Using these suggestions screen printing onto sportswear should become a whole lot easier.

Coloured Inks For Screen Printing Onto Sportswear

If you need coloured inks for screen printing onto sportswear, we recommend that you use inks from our 500 series standard opacity plastisol ink and 550 series high opacity plastisol ink ranges and modify for polyester using additives. This give maximum flexibility. Add both Low Cure Additive (LCA) and Low Bleed Additive (LBA) to the 500 or 550 ink of your choice. If the garment is very stretchy, you can also add the High Stretch Additive (HSA). Please follow directions carefully when using additives.

By using the 500 and 550 series inks you have the flexibility to print onto cotton, polycotton and polyester garments while making adjustments on an “as-needed” basis using additives. Defender Grey can again be used as an underbase if the polyester material being printed proves to be troublesome with regards to dye migration.

Silicone Inks For Screen Printing Onto Sportswear

Silicone inks offer a good solution for printing sportswear as it resists dye migration and is very stretchy indeed. Unfortunately there is no magic bullet when it comes to screen printing onto sportswear, so silicone inks also have some drawbacks to keep in mind.

Silicone inks tend to have a relatively short pot life once mixed and ready to use, so waste can be high. Couple this with the higher price tag at the outset and you need to make sure you account for this when you price your work up at the start. Silicone inks are best for use with basic designs as the ink is much more gloopy and will not flow through your screen as easily as normal plastisol inks do. If you have a complex or intricate design, you may want to steer clear of this solution.

Finally, do keep in mind that although the silicone ink will stick to the garment like no other ink, the colour of the ink layer is likely to be much less resilient. Crocking is a problem with silicone inks and after only a few washes, the colour loss will be noticeable and likely much more than the alternatives discussed. Crocking is not just a problem during the wash cycle either. If it is really bad, you may see colour loss onto products that come into contact with the garment in everyday use. While sporty types may not necessarily lounge around on a white leather sofa at home in their game gear, it is very possible that they may have light coloured leather or fabric seats in their car that could fall victim to the crocking issue.

You may also want to review our previous blog article on How To Print Troublesome Polyesters.

To find out more on the Lancer range of silicone inks for screen printing onto sportswear, please contact us.